Objective: To explore healthcare providers' views on improving preconception care in their region.
Design: Mixed-methods study.
Setting: Working conferences aimed to educate healthcare providers on preconceptional risk factors and conduct a region-specific analysis of barriers and facilitators for implementing preconception care, were organised in ten municipalities in the Netherlands.
Participants: 250 healthcare providers of various disciplines attended a working conference and participated in the study.
Measurements and findings: Participants were asked to both fill out a questionnaire concerning statements and experiences with preconception care and to participate in a workshop, to identify barriers and facilitators for the implementation of a local preconception care program. Almost all healthcare providers suggested that the responsibility for providing preconception care consultations lies within primary care (general practitioners (n = 239; 95.6%) and midwives (n = 236; 94.4%)). Professionals other than midwives found it significantly more difficult to start a conversation about a wish to conceive compared to midwives (26.8% versus 20.2%, p-value = 0.006) and felt less competent to provide preconceptional information (32.3% versus 15.1%, p-value = <0.001). Innovative facilitators were mentioned to improve reaching the target population with preconceptional information, i.e. the use of social media and local ambassadors.
Key conclusion: While the responsibility for providing preconception care consultations is best suited with primary care, many other healthcare providers involved may act as referrers towards preconception care. Still, approximately 1 in 7 midwives (strongly) disagree with the statement that it is part of their job to provide preconceptional information to couples with a wish to conceive.
Implications for practice: There is a need for integrating preconception care in many curricula and postgraduate courses, especially for non-midwives, to improve the delivery of preconception care. Insights in the suggested barriers and facilitators can improve the implementation of (local) preconception care programs.
Keywords: Facilitators; Health promotion; Healthcare provider; Implementation; Preconception care.
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